Sunday, April 29, 2012

Swedish Mini Pancakes

I am tired. Oh so very very tired. As of this moment I’m running on about 45 minutes of sleep and have had to retype that sentence multiple times in order for it to make sense. I should probably go to bed, but I’m up and awake and ready to talk about mini pancakes!

I firmly believe that if you take something and make it small, it instantly becomes cuter and/or more desirable. Take puppies and kittens for example. And it also explains the crazy of cupcakes. Cupcakes are adorable because they come in cute little paper liners and are topped with a swirl of fluffy frosting and sprinkles on top.

The smell of hot pancakes fresh off the griddle. The lovely sight of melted butter drizzling down the sides. Pure maple syrup coating the hot butter pancakes. All of these are great for a morning breakfast, but sometimes eating a stack of four pancakes the size of your head (people do that right?) sounds a little more monstrous and waist-expanding. When you shrink the pancakes to about 2 inch diameter, eating 12 pancakes doesn’t seem too bad, am I right? And let me tell you there really was no guilt in eating 12 of these in one sitting.

These pancakes are traditionally served with Ligonberries, but because I’m not much of a fruit preserve kind of girl (grape jelly all the way people!) I ate these with of course grape jam, and plain. Yes, plain. I’m a food-ripper-aparter and I can’t really do that when they are drenched in sweet maple syrup. The only suggestion I have is to cut down on the amount of salt in this recipe because I found some of the little pancakes to be quite salty, but other than that, these were perfect!

Swedish Mini Pancakes
From Lick the Bowl Good
Makes about 2 dozen 2 inch mini pancakes
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat a griddle or pan on medium-low heat.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Beat together the wet ingredients. Fold the wet into the dry. Try not to over mix. It’s ok if there are a few small lumps of flour.

Spray the pan of choice with cooking spray. Spoon a tablespoon or two of batter onto the heated pan (you can fit multiple pancakes on each). I used a really, really small ladle the spoon my pancakes, but an actual tablespoon will work too. Once the edges are slightly dry looking and the bubbled have started to pop in the middle, flip the pancake. You may need to turn down the pan after the initial batch has been cooked.

Serve with jam, powdered sugar, butter and maple syrup, or just eat them plain. But make sure to eat them warm because nobody likes a cold pancake.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Peanut Butter Muffins

I know pretty much anyone who reads this will think I’m crazy, and some may even think “Blasphemy!” but I’m just going to come right out and say it. Muffins are better than cupcakes. There I said it. Please don’t come after me with torches and pitchforks.

Don’t get me wrong, I like cupcakes…but only sometimes. Actually, I would much rather eat a slice of cake than a cupcake. A slice of cake is much more satisfying that a little tiny cake with as much frosting on top to equal the cake that comes in the decorative paper liner. Now to some, that is heaven on Earth, but I feel sick just thinking about it. I just don’t have the tolerance for most frostings.

Muffins on the other hand are strong on their own. They don’t need an extra layer of sugar to make them stand out, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need a little help either. Muffins are good plain, or with berries bursting in the middle or chocolate chips speckling the batter. They are best when there’s a sweet and crumbly streusel top, or with a thick and dense top, either way you spin it, a muffin top will always be the best part. And yes, cupcakes can be filled with marvelous things like sauces, curds, cookie doughs, and various other goodies as well, but it’s just not the same. Once all of those things come into play, there is just too much going on.

The humble muffin is the way to go.

The reason for all this muffin talk is because I haven’t made muffins in a really long time and I was just dying to get my hands on a delicious little muffin. I didn’t do much searching because I already had about 10 muffin recipes saved from Foodgawker. After much deliberation and internal arguments, I chose a peanut butter and chocolate chip muffin.

I love the taste of peanut butter. I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day! I’m kind of worried for my future adult self. Will I still be making a PB&J for lunch when I go to work? Gosh I hope so. The future seems bleak without that classic sandwich. I digress.

These muffins are really simple and easy to make. Plus, cleanup’s a breeze because you only need two bowls to make these, one for the dry ingredients and one for the wet. I halved the recipe, not knowing who else but me would eat these muffins. Turns out all but one was eaten within the day. So next time I will definitely make the whole batch, although I’m not sure how many it will yield because halving the recipe gave me 10 muffins. Maybe I just have a small scoop.

Peanut Butter Muffins
Adapted from Alida’s Kitchen
Makes about 10 muffins

½ cup + 2 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. canola oil
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup + 2 tbsp. buttermilk
½ cup milk chocolate, chopped (or use chips)

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Prepare a muffin pan by spraying cooking spray in the compartments or line them with paper liners. Set aside

In a medium bowl sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the canola oil, brown sugar, peanut butter, vanilla, and egg. Whisk until well combined.

Fold in 1/3 of the dry ingredients followed by half of the buttermilk. Continue this until everything has been mixed together well. Fold in the milk chocolate pieces.

Use a medium or large scoop to portion the batter evenly into the prepared muffin pan. Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack for a few minutes. Take the muffins out of the pan and allow them to cool completely.

These muffins were best serves slightly warm.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cake Slice Bakers - April 2012: Cinnamon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake

This month, the Cake Slice Bakers and I made a Cinnamon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake. I love cinnamon, I love pound cake, and I love streusel, so this cake already seemed like a winner in my book.

Tish Boyle, the author, describes this cake as being a “sure-fire bake sale hit” and I think it definitely is. The cake has a really tender crumb and it stays moist for days! Only after about a week after baking did the corners of this cake start to get a little stale.

The cake was lovely and moist, and had a wonderful yellow color. I don’t know why I’m obsessed with how yellow desserts are. I don’t even really like yellow unless it’s on the pastelish side. But when it comes to desserts, I’m all on the yellow bandwagon. So yes, this cake is lovely and yellow and super moist. Then there’s the brown sugar-cinnamon streusel that goes into this cake. The streusel inside the cake melted perfectly into the middle of the pound, but the top didn’t really stick or melt. But it did add a lovely crunch to the top.  

I made a few changes, but nothing drastic. Instead of making it in a regular Bundt pan (I have one, but it’s Christmas themed), I halved the recipe and used a 9x5 inch loaf pan. I also omitted the orange zest, but after reading some of my fellow baker’s comments about the sweet orange note in the background, I wish I hadn’t. Next time I make this cake I will make sure to add the orange zest.

To check out how the other bakers did, click here.

Cinnamon Streusel Buttermilk Pound Cake
Adapted from The Cake Book
Makes one 9x5 inch loaf

Cinnamon Streusel Ingredients
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ½ tbsp. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Pound Cake Ingredients
1 ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
Pinch of cardamom
7 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the streusel. Stir until blended and crumbly. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until very creamy, about 2 minutes. Slowly add in the sugar and beat on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Reduced the speed to medium and beat in the egg and egg yolk. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl now. Beat in the vanilla extract. Turn the speed down to low and gradually add in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Pour in half of the buttermilk. Add in another 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by the rest of the buttermilk. Beat in the last of the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat the batter on medium for about 30 seconds.

Scrape half of the batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle on half of the streusel mixture (or you can sprinkle it all on and leave none for the top). Cover the streusel with the remaining batter. If you chose to have the streusel on top, sprinkle the rest on right now. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out relatively clean. Cook the cake in the pan on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan.

Invert the cake onto a wire rack and then revert it onto its final resting plate.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gooey Lemon Brownies

I think I can control the weather. Well at least crappy weather. We had a pretty mild winter this year (last year?). The only really bad part was the icy cold winds. Then, one day I decided to get my hair cut really short because I was tired of how my hair just hung down on my head. You know what happened the next day? There was a blizzard. So because of my newly cropped do, the back of my neck was left unprotected from the harsh elements of the outside. Then when I went back to school from winter break, my anatomy classroom, which has always been freezing, felt even colder. The worst part was when I found out my new seat was right under the coldest vent in the classroom. I know it’s the coldest vent because my teacher did a test one day and it was blowing out 40 degree air into the room.

Spring has finally sprung and so far we’ve had a fairly decent one. Well at least for the month of March. Again, because the weather was so nice and I realized I actually like short hair, I decided to get it cut again. Not two days later, temperatures dropped from the lovely 70s to the 40s with nasty rainstorms. The weatherman predicts snow either today or tomorrow. So for the sake of nice weather, maybe I should just stop cutting my hair.

I know that wasn’t the most interesting thing to read, but I will reward you for your patience with brownies! And not just any brownies: lemon brownies! And they are super-duper delicious! I’m usually not one to grab for a citrusy type snack, but for some reason I was just craving something citrusy. Maybe it was the nice spring weather (before I cut my hair) or maybe it has to do with everyone blogging about grapefruit cakes and glazes, orange breads, and lemon sandwich cookies. Either way, I was hit by the spring bug and I wanted some lemony action. That’s when I found these babies.

They are not overly tart, but you can definitely taste the lemon in these bars. And the glaze that goes on top adds just enough lemon kick to make the bars complete. You may notice that these aren’t very tall, but that’s because there is absolutely no leavening in this recipe at all. Even though I usually like my bars with a little height, I don’t think I would have liked it for this particular recipe. The short and dense bar makes it extra chewy and delicious. Not only are they delicious, but they even remind me of spring. I think it has to do with the pretty yellow these turned out to be. Some lemon desserts are just too… bright. You know what I mean? These look delicate and refreshing.

Gooey Lemon Brownies
Adapted from Becky Bakes
Makes 9x9 inch pan

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 egg yolk
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Juice from half a lemon
Zest from one whole lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9x9 inch baking dish with tin foil and liberally spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, egg, egg yolk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and fold until everything has been incorporated.  

Spread batter into the prepared pan. It may take some coaxing, but it will eventually spread out evenly. Place in the preheated oven and bake 16-18 minutes or until the top has lightly browned.

Let it cool in the pan for about five minutes while you prepare the glaze.

To make the glaze, whisk together ¾ cup powdered sugar, juice from half a lemon, and water by the teaspoon until you have reached your desired glaze consistency. Pour over the cooled lemon brownie. Slice and serve. These are perfect at room temperature, but if you want it heated just a tad, microwave it for 5 seconds. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Marbled Chocolate Chip Cookies

If a table of every kind of luscious, gooey, creamy, crunchy, sinful, rich, and decadent desserts were spread out in front and I could only choose one I would most likely 99% of the time choose the chocolate chip cookie.

Yes. I know having a choice of chocolate éclairs, amber caramel, silky smooth ice cream, peanut brittle, crème brule, and dense chocolate cake would pose a problem to some, but not me. It doesn’t take much to please me. The simple warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie brings a smile to my lips and a joyful clap in my hands.

When I was little I would beg my parents for the treat by shouting “Geeka! Geeka!” This was when I was fluent in Spanish and was too young to pronounce the “galletita” which means “little cookie”.

Although these cookies don’t come from my childhood, they certainly bring back a child-like quality into my mind. This cookie takes the classic chocolate chip cookie and the double chocolate chip cookie and melds it into one swirly twirly chocolate chip cookie. I mean come on, what kid doesn’t go nuts for swirls and twirls.

I’m not going to admit that these are out of this world/mind blowing/stop you in your tracks tasting cookies. And I’m not telling you that these are awful. What I’m telling you is that these cookies are a special little treat for those of us who are little kids at heart and wouldn’t mind turning to the familiar taste of a chocolate chip cookie.

Marbled Chocolate Chip Cookies
slightly adapted from Peabody
makes 46 cookies

1 cup + 2 tbsp flour
½ tsp baking soda
3/8 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 tbsp cocoa powder
150 g semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high for 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract and egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 30 seconds.  Slow the speed down and carefully add in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Take out ¾ cup of the dough and place in another bowl. Add the cocoa powder to the mixture in the bowl and beat until incorporated. Beat in about half of the chocolate chips. Stir the remaining chocolate chips into the light dough.*

Scoop dough into portions from each batter. Cut each portion in half. Take a half from the light dough and a half from the chocolate dough and roll together. Place onto prepared baking sheet two inches apart. Moisten your hand and flatten each cookie slightly. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

*Note: because I just eye-balled the ratio I ended up getting a more chocolate dough than I did the normal dough.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

All week I have had a craving to eat something really chewy and dense. Something I could really sink my teeth into. All I have around in the house to crave my sweet tooth is ice cream, and that is neither chewy nor dense. So this needed to be fixed right away.
A while ago I told you all how I got organized and wrote down every single thing that I wanted to bake from my favorite blogs. I again went to that list to find something that would curb the need for chewy and gooey.
I am amazed at how little truly toothsome recipes I have set my sights on. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for chewy when I made the list. But anyways, I did find a couple of really amazing looking treats towards the bottom of the list that I cannot wait to try out! However, this post is about a cookie/bar/cake all rolled into one.
Erin of Texanerin Baking makes eating healthy look so effortless and she makes killer looking treats to boot. She uses whole grain flour, natural sweeteners like honey, and she mostly uses oil in place of butter. The funny thing about Erin is that she doesn’t like the taste of whole grain (as I think a lot of people don’t). So it’s great that she’s making treats healthier and taste great at the same time.

Once I saw these Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars I knew I had to make them. I mean just look at her photos; they’re amazing!

I was a little worried about using oil in this recipe because I tend to find goodies that were made with oil a little too greasy for my taste, but this wasn’t the case at all (however I did omit a little bit of the oil from the recipe). The color of the batter is like caramel. It’s silky and smooth and just so pretty to look at (Am I the only one mesmerized by batter?). The baked bars are springy to the touch. Like marshmallow-clouds kind of springy. And cutting into the mother bar* was like a dream. After taking a slice out I was tantalized by the sight of melty chocolate chips and a cakey interior.

Yes, my bars turned out cakier than Erin’s did, but I think that’s because I baked it for maybe 30-45 seconds too long, but that’s ok because it tasted so great. Like I said before, the end result was not oily at all. The peanut butter flavor was subtle at first, but after a while you could really start to taste it. I know some people talk about letting things sit out a little so flavors can enhance, well after only about 4 or 5 hours, the peanut butter went from subtle to “Oh my goodness! That’s peanut butter!”

Go make these. And just so you know (you as in the people who don’t like the wonderful nuttiness of whole wheat), I didn’t used whole wheat flour like Erin did and they still turned out wonderful.

*mother bar: n; an 8x8 or 9x9 bar that has not been cut into serving size pieces.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar
Slightly adapted from Texanerin
Makes one 9x9 bar
¼ cup canola oil
8 tbsp. peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp baking powder
~¾ cup (125 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or cover with parchment paper/foil a 9x9 inch baking pan; set aside.

In a large bowl mix together the oil, peanut butter, sugar, honey, eggs and vanilla extract. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Dump all of the dry ingredients into the wet. Fold to combine, but be careful not to over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 15-17 minutes for a nice and gooey bar. For a slightly soft and pillowy bar, bake for 18 minutes. Let the bar cool in the pan on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before cutting. These definitely taste best when they are warm, so if you’re not going to eat them fresh out of the oven, put them in the microwave for 13-15 seconds and they will be good as gold.

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